Review of ANA’s business class service from London – Tokyo Haneda (Part Two)

This is the second part of my review of the ANA’s Business Class service between London Heathrow and Tokyo Haneda.

Part One, which looked at the seating and IFE, is here.  This is Part Two which is focusing on the food and drink on offer.

ANA business class review London Heathrow Tokyo Haneda

Once settled in my seat I was offered a drink (orange juice or sparkling wine) by one of the very friendly flight attendants.

We were given a food and drink menu and had the choice of either Japanese or International cuisine.

The drinks menu had everything from a selection of red and white wines to sake, shochu and umeshu.  There was only one Japanese Whisky which was slightly disappointing. The champagne served was Canard Duchene Cuvee Leonie Brut which retails in the UK for £27 and is not exactly a premium brand.

ANA business class review London Heathrow Tokyo Haneda

On my outbound flight I chose the International Cuisine option.  It came with an amuse bouche:

ANA business class review London Heathrow Tokyo Haneda

The starter was a terrine and smoked salmon rillettes rolls served with bread rolls and corn soup.

ANA business class review London Heathrow Tokyo Haneda

As my main I chose the fillet of beef steak with morel mushroom cream sauce. Unfortunately it was rather rare and I do prefer my steak less bloody. The sauce was very tasty though.

ANA business class review London Heathrow Tokyo Haneda

I chose a tasty lemon tart for dessert. The other options were chocolate and salted caramel cake, cheese and fruits.

ANA business class review London Heathrow Tokyo Haneda

The only issue I had with my meal on the outbound flight was the time it took to be served.  I was already pretty tired when I boarded the plane and would have loved to go to sleep pretty soon after, but the dining service took about two hours and it seemed an age from take off until the lights were turned off.

Breakfast the next morning was a vegetable frittata with tomato braised kidney beans and broccoli as well as yoghurt, a croissant and a bread roll with jam.

ANA business class review London Heathrow Tokyo Haneda

On my inbound flight I pre-ordered the vegetarian menu. I used to be vegetarian (until bacon happened) and thought I’d see how ANA interprets vegetarian cuisine.

I had a pastry appetizer.

ANA business class review London Heathrow Tokyo Haneda

The starter was half an avocado with ratatouille and vegetables. I’m slightly obsessed with avocados and was rather happy with this option.

ANA business class review London Heathrow Tokyo Haneda

Now, the main dish was interesting.

Tagliatelle with a creamy mushroom sauce and a very doughy dumpling on top. The pasta sauce worked well, but the dumpling was a bit salty and I didn’t really understand what it was doing on top of the pasta in the first place.

ANA business class review London Heathrow Tokyo Haneda

I was hoping for a nice chocolate desert, but for some reason the vegetarian menu included a small bowl of fruit. I’m sure I could have asked for a different dessert, but took it as a sign and ate the fruit.

My breakfast on the way into Heathrow was a potato pancake with fried eggs, lentils and vegetables which worked well.

ANA business class review London Heathrow Tokyo Haneda

Just before we landed I had another coffee whilst watching BBC News.

ANA business class review London Heathrow Tokyo Haneda


To be honest I don’t look forward to being in the air for 12 hours, even with a Business Class seat, but ANA did a good job at making this flight pleasant.

The cabin crew was very attentive and friendly. After boarding they came around introducing themselves, asking how I’d like to be adressed and to discuss the menu. I loved how they kept exchanging my empty water bottles for full ones throughout the night without me having to ask them for it.

There were a few small communication issues with the Japanese crew during my two flights but nothing major, and no worse than I have had with Middle Eastern airlines.

The seats on both flights were very comfortable with a good amount of storage space and the staggered seat configuration gave enough privacy. I’d happily choose ANA’s Business Class over British Airways Club World.

If you are interested in trying ANA’s Business Class as a mileage redemption, you can use either Star Alliance miles or – at a very attractive rate – Virgin Flying Club.  We discussed how to do this in an article yesterday.

There is another article in this series to come tomorrow which looks at ANA’s impressive lounge in Tokyo Haneda.

Thanks to the ANA team in London for their help in putting this trip together.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Review of ANA's business class service from London - Tokyo Haneda
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  1. You won’t get catering like that on BA , even if flying in First. I have not used ANA but I have used JAL. The gulf between everyone else and poor old BA is now a chasm and if spending you own money you are better off on anyone except BA.
    I have just endured 10 hours on the upper deck of a clapped out 747 with dirty toilets, miserable grumpy crew and catering that would have shamed a motorway service station. My employer was ripped off to the tune of £4400 for this appalling experience. Those of us who travel relatively frequently are actively campaigning to change the companies travel policy. It’s no longer amusing and does nothing to prepare you for what you need to do on arrival.

  2. Simon says:

    TBH I think the food doesn’t look that great (better than CW but a little behind some of the ME3).

    Obviously, going 1-2-1 in business is a signifiant improvement.

    Was there anything about the service? There is something cultural on it, but Asian airlines are far superior at it.

    Surprised that BA don’t realise that a good crew can paper over a reasonable number of cracks, I find it quite shocking how the quality of the CW crews can be so hit and miss. I sympathise that the crew aren’t the best paid, but no-one forced them into the job and surely the best way to increase your prospects would be to offer superb service.

    I guess more blame needs to go to the management, because crew only follow SOPs, but I don’t think it would cost BA that much more to strive for better service and have some kind of system where the more naturally gifted people serve in the premium classes.

  3. Russell says:

    I would say that vegetarian option is totally unacceptable. That’s an airline which has literally gone “does it contain meat? No? Throw it on the plate then”

    Pasta with a massive dumpling on it?! “Yo dawg, we heard you liked carbs, so we put carbs on your carbs”

    • Russell says:

      (In hindsight I don’t know if this is the right forum for an XZibit meme but I gave it a shot anyway)

    • Callum says:

      That seems pretty normal on any airline. When I last flew Etihad, for dinner I had green beans. For breakfast I had green beans. For lunch I had…. green beans!

      Its also very annoying that the vegetarian option is often also the “healthy” option, so when everyone else is eating a delicious chocolate cake etc, 9 times out of 10 I get a tiny cup of chopped fruit!

      • James says:

        Try a BA veggie meal. Usually prison slop and always vegan to make it more bland plus saves costs as one size fits all special meals

      • Jamie says:

        The portion reminds me of the veggie meal I had with them from HND-FRA when they first started using their 787.

        It was also finished with fruit and I recalled wondering where the rest of the meal was – I recall thinking I’m still hungry…and the breakfast I don’t remember being very big either.

        I was on SQ J not long ago and they came round with ice-cream, only to withhold mine as they’d not catered enough for vegetarians to have one too.

        • Jamie says:

          PS. OZ are worse for this – I had a fruit salad as a starter, some fruits on the side of my main and fruits for desert! I’m fairly sure I ordered a vegetarian meal rather than a fruit platter.

  4. Gavin says:

    Would have been interesting to see the Japanese food options.

    • AspirationalFlyer says:

      Agreed – wonder if they’d been any better. I always went for the Japanese options on recent flights with JAL and the food was consistently great.

  5. ChampagneSocialist says:

    Fair review, and vegetarians will appreciate that you reviewed a vegetarian meal (as they are often left out from reviews).. but IMHO, it was a real missed opportunity that you didn’t try a Japanese meal at least once! On a Japanese airline, in J!!! The Japanese meal I had on ANA LHR-HND J in 2014 was hands down the best in flight dining experience I’d ever experienced – until I tried JAL J recently – I lost count of the number of courses, the presentation and flavours were simply exquisite, and it was a fantastic introduction to Japanese cuisine, for a first timer to Japan. The whisky, I don’t recall how many choices there were but I had a Hibiki 17 years IIRC, and that’s not to be sniffed at. In short, the ANA J had a lot of plus points but (Japanese) food definitely stood out as a highlight.

    • Chris says:

      Hibiki 17 on a flight is definately not to be sniffed at!!

    • Richard says:

      I flew NRT-HEL in business class on JAL and the japanese food was amazing. The “starter” especially which was presented in a box with about 12 small compartments with different item in each. And this was just the starter.
      I also liked the food ordering for the second meal which was done via the remote control. Picking your items, putting them into the basket and then ‘checking out’ to place the order, which arrived about 10 minutes later.

    • Jimmy says:

      Spot on. Madness to fly on a Japanese carrier and not choose “their” cuisine.
      I agree its always consistently great presentation & quality (especially in J/F) and yes the Hibiki 17 is ace!

      [Am waiting on the reply “But I’m a Veggie & I don’t drink whisky!!!!”]

  6. The pastry appetizer looks a bit anemic but, overall, I would definitely choose this over BA CW.

  7. I’m sorry but I think the food looks dreadful. I’m also not keen on the look of the cabin either – all very dull. That said, if you want to go to Japan – which I don’t – this seems like extremely good value via Virgin.

  8. Food looks good, looks better than BA First (but so does food from Harvester). But what were the other options? Menu?

  9. Catalan says:

    Actually the food looks very unappetizing. No flare in presentation or table setting. The seating arrangement offers excellent privacy though which is a plus, but what happens if traveling with your loved ones or children? Perhaps too private?

  10. Vivian says:

    Having lived and studied in Japan, I think it’s always safer to go with the Japanese option whether it’s at a hotel or on the plane. I flew JAL (on BA codeshare) from LHR to HND in economy and I was quite pleased with the Japanese offering.

  11. Billy says:

    Really enjoyable read and I like your writing style!

    Thanks for sharing. Along with the heads up about Virgin redemptions I am even keener to try ANA and Tokyo!

  12. NigelM says:

    As above, thanks for reviewing the vegetarian option – thoughtful and rarely done.

    • Mzungu says:

      “…rarely done” – like the steak on the outbound!

    • Jordan D says:

      Business Traveller nearly always do vegetarian options, because one of their main correspondents is vegetarian … which means reviews of insipid and dull meals.

  13. D1865 says:

    Only slightly OT – RE: Avios redemptions to Japan.

    I am planning a trip in Summer 2018 to Japan in CW, using a 2-4-1. This would be my first redemption, so I am quite unfamiliar with how far in advance flights must be booked. Assuming I wanted to go ~July 2018, when would I need to book by to ensure availability?

    I’m happy to do flexible in a similar manner to Rob’s Asia trip. With that in mind, how far in advance would a CW 2-4-1 booking need to be made for Seoul/Beijing/Shanghai/HK/Chengdu? Are there any data points on this anywhere?



    • NigelM says:

      We found good availability (as you will if you look at the availability checker) – remember BA flies to both Narita (Dreamliner) and Haneda, so there are 2 Tokyo options, and that F is also available. 🙂

      • Curious says:

        I can no longer locate the link to “that” availability checker anymore – any ideas? Thanks

    • Genghis says:

      BA reward availability becomes available 355 days before departure at GMT midnight (BST 1am) so for July 18 departures you’d be looking at end of July 17 / Aug 17.

      If you know your dates and they are locked in, my advice would be to book as soon as availability has opened up. Book the outbound once released and apply your voucher online and then when the return becomes available, either call up to book or do it online (if you have sufficient avios) and cancel and add to 241 in the morning (I did the latter in Feb). However, Tokyo often has really good availability.

      I would question though why you would want to go in July? July weather is not the best – wet and humid!

      • NigelM says:

        Good point re July – a Japanese friend told us to actively avoid the summer in Tokyo.

    • We booked in November for peak Easter dates.

    • Gavin says:

      BA no longer fly to Chengdu by the way

      I found Seoul hot and humid enough after Chuseok last year in late September – I would not want to be there in July! Similarly all my Japanese colleagues at work tell me how much they dislike the summer months, and how the UK summer is bliss in comparison

  14. Mr Cinnamon says:

    I have flown ANA on this route in J (I am in Tokyo now, but flew out with BA First this time, which despite others comments, IS better than ANA Business).

    The food above looks dreadful on the Inbound flight. I ate the Japanese menu on both my ANA flights and it was superb. You really missed out with your choices above.

  15. D1865 says:

    Thanks all. Unfortunately I will not have enough points to book at the 355 day limit, so I will have to wait until a later date – hence the worry about when availability decreases.

    RE: July, this is due to work/university commitments for myself and my girlfriend. I’ve been to the Far East for the past 2 years at a similar time and not found it to be an issue. Of course this is a personal preference, and I assume I’m rather uncommon in not minding extreme heat/humidity. I would recommend a bowl of Naengmyeon for anyone who struggles with the heat in Seoul.

    It is disappointing to hear about Chengdu (looks like I have been using an old version of BA routes). I have been meaning to visit, but it’s hard to pop in/out given its location.

  16. Is it just me or is the recycled paper napkin on the side just naff?

    • the real harry1 says:

      pretty minor in the grand scheme of things – shouldn’t it be crisply ironed & starched white linen, though? 🙂

      that veggie food really looks poor – in the ‘good old days’ I often used to go for the BA veggie offer as I can’t stand that sweet bun in Europe – yep, going veggie was always a decent choice, it’s not difficult to make it interesting, so ANA needs to get its act together

    • I bet if there had been a milk carton it would have been upside down as well

  17. Jordan D says:

    Real shame that the Japanese options didn’t get reviewed. JAL’s Japanese food is amongst the finest things I’ve eaten on an aircraft, so seeing what ANA could do would have been lovely.

  18. John Small says:

    The reason you did not get a chocolate cake with your vegetarian meal is that most desert toppings, sauces or creams contain animal fats. That’s why it is usually a bowl of fruit.

  19. Curious says:

    “There was only one Japanese Whisky which was slightly disappointing.” How exactly should we read this? Surely you can see this could be interpreted in two differing ways.

    The fact that only one was on offer, or that you tried the sole option and you didn’t like it?

    Indeed, what was the sole Japanese whisky on offer? If only one existed, surely it wouldn’t be onerous to inform us which one it was? I would be happy for only one option if that one option is good quality, which most Japanese whiskies are.